Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Since 2003, Seneca has guided the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through its evolution as a tenant in a 100,000 square foot facility to the owner of a world class facility on 12 acres in the center of Seattle. As the foundation’s Development Manager, Seneca provided critical leadership, serving as trusted advisors to the foundation and as shepherds of the team through all phases of the development process.
For the site selection process, Seneca worked with the foundation to analyze the development costs and schedule risks of potential sites. Once the final site, a City-owned parking lot, was selected, Seneca worked closely with Seattle Center and the foundation to craft and implement a joint development and operating agreement to replace the surface parking with a parking garage. Key to the project’s success was Seneca’s role in developing collaborative solutions given the varying interests of the parties. The LEED® gold garage, a first for Seattle, was delivered on schedule and under budget.
Seneca developed and implemented an entitlement strategy for the foundation. In 2006, the City granted a 15-year Major Phased Development permit, the first-ever granted within a commercial zone in Seattle. In addition to the entitlement process, Seneca has been working throughout the development process with SDOT, WSDOT, the foundation and other constituents to propose and develop solutions to the surrounding transportation infrastructure while preserving the foundation’s fundamental objective of an integrated campus. Throughout the development cycle, Seneca’s relationship with the players, creative problem solving and commitment to achieving win/win solutions has been instrumental in obtaining permits and moving solutions forward.
Managing an effort with such global significance required careful balancing of vision and budget. Initial preparation of the budget involved detailed discussions with NBBJ, the architect, and Sellen, the contractor, to prepare a budget that achieved that balance. Seneca’s disciplined approach to track budget and costs to date has provided the foundation with monthly budget updates and readily available data.
Seneca has smoothly and effectively managed the challenges inherent in a project of this size - from coordinating the relocation of 115 kV transmission lines, managing the removal of contaminated soil, to finding solutions for the inevitable bumps and course corrections during design and construction. On behalf of the foundation, Seneca has worked to bring all parties together, solve issues and move this very complex project forward.
When completed in the spring of 2011, the new campus will be, as described by the foundation, “a place that inspires and creates optimism and hope, and a hub for innovation and gatherings of experts from many fields, perspectives, and countries who are dedicated to improving lives here and around the world.” Seneca is both honored and humbled to be instrumental in bringing this significant project to fruition.